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Full text of "Verdict On India"

MUSICAL INTERLUDE
reason, there are no Indian singing teachers, as we understand
them, and no schools of voice production ; the few Indian singers
who have obtained wide reputations have won them for reasons
which are only remotely connected with the vocal cords—their
looks, their personality, their repertoire, their publicity—and, of
course, their reputation for holiness.1
This is a simple but fundamental point, and until we have
grasped it, Indian music will be meaningless. The fact that I have
not grasped it will become apparent in the following description
of the instruments of the Maharajah's orchestra. It was written
immediately after returning from the concert. To-day I might be
inclined to modify or, at least, to annotate it. We will let it stani.
if only because it conveys fairly vividly the first impact of Indian
music on a mind trained in the traditions of the West.
Here, then, are the Maharajah's Court Musicians.
5 Veenas. This is a sort of off-colour guitar. As a decoration it is
charming, elaborately inlaid with silver, resting on a green
lacquered base. Played at a distance, in a high wind, it
might soothe the savage breast, but it is hardly a thing to
leave in the vicinity of nervous persons.
2 Thumbooris. This is a Veena that stands up instead of sitting
down.
2 Mrudangams.   This faintly resembles a drum.
1 Tabala. This is really another Mrudangam; it faintly resembles
two drums, one sharp and one flat.
1  Flute.   Of the Sic lian variety, sweet and plaintive, but quite
inaudible when played within a hundred yards of the afore-
said tongue-twisters.
2  Violins.  At least, they looked like violins.  However, they were
both fitted with trumpets. And there was one other significant
difference.. .the strings were of wire instead of catgut.
1 This point is brought out very clearly in The Music of India, by Herbert Popley*
B.A, (Oxford University Tress). It quotes an illnnanating comment by no less &
person than Tagore, in the Adyar Bulletin, Madras. Tagore, discussing the singing
of an Indian lady who had been trained in Europe, said: * In India, any finesse in
^ singing is regarded with contempt; no trouble is taken to make either voice or
manner attractive. Singers are not ashamed if their top notes are cracked, their
bass notes unnatural, their gestures violent. They take it to be their sole function
to display their mastery over the forma and formalities of classic traditions."